TRANSPARENTLY OPAQUE ! FCTC COP8’s SECRECY & EXCLUSION !

If you have been following the events at COP8 I am sure you were as shocked as I was. The process for negotiating and implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (“FCTC”), the world’s first public health treaty and the first adopted under the auspices of the World Health Organization (“WHO”), has been characterized by novel features of secrecy and exclusion that cannot be reconciled with accepted norms of international lawmaking. The FCTC’s stated objective is to progressively reduce tobacco consumption “by providing a framework for tobacco control measures to be implemented by the Parties at the national, regional, and international levels.” That goal has significant economic implications that impact groups ranging from tobacco farmers to wholesalers to importers — yet blanket bans on public and media access have wholly excluded impacted groups from having any voice in, or even the ability to monitor, ongoing deliberations.

From changing admission procedure rules overnight on the first day , deliberately done to make public access even more difficult, to barring the media (as usual) from attending, leaves nothing to be desired. Noe even tobacco consumers are allowed to attend as mere observers .

The media has taken all this for granted,since this is not the first time they have been banned in a COP meeting.Public and media bans have proven very effective at discouraging mainstream media coverage of FCTC proceedings. What news organization has the cash to spare to send a reporter overseas to cover an event into which the reporter will not be admitted, to write a story that is virtually guaranteed to be limited by a near-total lack of access, concerning a treaty that few among the reading public even know about? Journalists have a mandate to speak out against this kind of treatment by an organization that is funded by public money.

Not everyone wishing to attend the conference is from the tobacco industry . Tobacco consumers are the victims, they’re the reason you are there . Why don’t they have a say in this matter? It should not be only about the FCTC and the tobacco industry . There’s real people that smoke these cigarettes, they need to be listened to. There has to be dialogue , rather than ejecting people in a bullish manner.

From the way the FCTC is conducting themselves, one has to question,is this about health at all?Has it ever been ? If it was they would have embraced low risk alternatives . It was good to see INNCO members give it a go and try to attend . Aluta continua